Pop-free: one year without pop

Before his return trip to the Bay Area, Zee German wanted to eat at Oasis one last time. I had already taken him there twice during his weeklong visit to Iowa City last summer, but such is the delicious power of our beloved local falafel joint that Zee German wanted one last meal there before flying back. (Who could blame him?) Despite a meek objection from me, out of concern for his fellow passengers — post-falafel gas can be epic — he said, “Screw them,” and I gladly stopped at Oasis before we headed to the airport. (My objection was only meek because I am not one to turn down a meal at Oasis.)

That afternoon I washed down my usual whole falafel and tray of small fries with a Mountain Dew from the fountain machine. That was one year ago today, and it was the last time I drank pop.

That’s right: I have not drank a single drop of pop — our Midwestern term for what others in the US call soda, soda pop, or coke — in one year. Though I cannot remember whether or not I resolved, right then and there, to stop drinking pop after finishing my Mountain Dew at Oasis last August 2, I decided to keep the streak going after a week or so. And here I am, one year later, completely pop-free.

Pop was something I had been looking to cut out of my diet for some time. Though I am no health expert, the general consensus from what I have read seems to be that drinking pop is not a good thing and that it is one of the driving forces behind America’s obesity and diabetes epidemics. It has, I am sure, zero nutritional value. (Could the same be said about beer? I’m not sure, but I think not. Mervgotti, though, once told me that beer calories are empty calories. However, we were talking about beer being fattening and I later learned that he thought empty calories meant calories that “don’t count” and can’t be absorbed or burned by the body. That’s not true. Calories are calories and count no matter what — including empty calories, which have no nutritional value.) Though I never drank excessive amounts of pop, as many others seem to do, and there were long periods of time when I only drank it when I ate out (I almost never bought it in cans or bottles for home when I lived in Southern California), there were other times when I was probably addicted.

Both of my parents used to drink a lot of pop. One very early weekday morning when I was in third grade (I think), I remember getting up before my usual time. My dad had not left for work yet, and I walked into the kitchen and saw him leaning over the counter eating his breakfast: Lays potato chips and Coca-Cola Classic. (Yummy!) My dad does not drink much anymore, but my mom is currently addicted to Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi. I cannot remember exactly how many she drinks throughout a workday, but I think it is two or three. (When I chide her about drinking too much, she always says, “It’s only two or three!” My dad will often tell me, “But it has zero calories!”) Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi is, I will admit, very tasty stuff. It filled the mini-fridge at their house when I moved back to Iowa (and still does) and I got into the habit of drinking a couple cans every day. On certain days I craved it and probably drink more than usual. It was there, available, so I enjoyed it. I drank it daily at points, but then would resolve to curb my consumption and cut back big time, often abstaining for a while. Then I would treat myself with one pop and relapse. It was a cycle that repeated itself every couple weeks or months.

My pop consumption was never a problem, and I did not go overboard, but at times I was probably drinking about as much as my mom did. It was a tasty bad habit, and I knew it. So I stopped drinking it.

Sure, it was a little hard at first. Reaching into my parents’ mini-fridge seemed to have become second nature, and the temptation to drink something a little more flavorful than water was still there. But I was resolved and after a while lost all the urge to drink pop. I know it is out there, but it stopped being an option that I consider.

Will I ever drink it again? I am not sure. When I decided to stop drinking it, I did not have any timeframe or goal in mind. But after a while I decided to shoot for one year, especially since I could easily remember the date and circumstances when I last drank it. At this point though, I do not want to break the streak. I guess, until I decide otherwise, I don’t drink pop. Period.

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